President Donald Trump will reportedly fall far shorter than the “several hundred million” doses of Covid-19 vaccines he suggested would be made available to the American public before the New Year from the White House.
In a seemingly premature celebratory event in the Rose Garden in May, the administration touted its Operation Warp Speed, created in response to the pandemic as part of an effort to ramp up vaccine production and build a pathway to immediate nationwide distribution.
In that event, the leader of the initiative, pharmaceutical executive Moncef Slaoui, spoke alongside the president and said he had “very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine, and these data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.”
Mr Trump called on pharmaceutical giants to support his demands for 300 million vaccines by the end of the year, then invited his vaccine czar to speak from the White House podium about how those calls were allegedly being met in record time.
But the government has since significantly lowered its expectations as the holiday season approaches, despite multiple pharmaceutical companies being in the final stages of gaining approval for their vaccines.
The US will see just a tenth of the 300 million vaccine doses the White House suggested would be distributed in 2020 sent out before the New Year, according to most estimates, equating to as many as 40 million doses.
However, the leading vaccine that appears set for first approval — created by Pfizer — requires two shots spaced out over 21 days. That means if the US sees 40 million doses of the vaccine in 2020, only 20 million people would be able to receive the two-shot treatment.
The timeline for production of a coronavirus vaccine has been remarkable and history-making in its speed and efficacy, with the leading vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna both producing high success rates.
But it’s far from the predictions Mr Trump and his vaccine czar made earlier in the year. The president has promoted misleading information about the pandemic from the very first days of the outbreak in the US while politicizing the acts of wearing a face mask and following social distancing guidelines by mocking his then-opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, for wearing masks.
Members of his coronavirus response task force like Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has begun working with the incoming administration on a cohesive distribution strategy for the vaccine and other pandemic-related efforts.